Democrats Searching For Reed Opponent

The 2016 race for Congress saw U.S. Rep. Tom Reed prevail for a fourth term.

With the outcome in the books, a new race begins as Democrats regroup to find the next candidate to challenge the Republican congressman from Corning.

Recently, Democratic leaders across the sprawling 23rd Congressional District convened in Hornell. During the meeting, Democratic Party leaders heard from several individuals who expressed interest in the seat that’s up for election in November 2018.

Two potential candidates from Chautauqua County were offered with one speaking during the meeting, according to Norman P. Green, county Democratic Party chair. While the names of potential candidates weren’t identified, Green acknowledged there’s vast interest from people across the district.

“They were from all areas of the spectrum and it was wonderful to see,” Green said. “We’re told that there’s more out there, which shocks me because it takes $2 million to run for Congress, they tell me. I would think that would be a daunting thing for people, but it doesn’t seem to be.”

Green, who was joined by party vice chairs Don Williams and Peg Cornell at the gathering, said potential candidates interviewed included a successful town supervisor who was elected and re-elected in a Republican area and a successful private businessman. Green said it’s up to them to make their announcements.

One name that could resurface is John Plumb, Lakewood resident. Green said he’s hoping Plumb will make another run for Congress in 2018, but Democratic leadership is prepared to go with a backup plan.

In July 2015, Plumb announced his candidacy for congressman. Born in Jamestown and raised in the neighboring town of Randolph in Cattaraugus County, Plumb’s a former submarine officer in the Navy, Department of Defense official and National Security Council member.

“No. 1, Plumb has the resume,” Green said. “He’s a great individual from a great Jamestown family. I just hope very much that he’s going to run for us again.”

However, Green said Plumb’s not at that point in time where he’s making a decision.

In the November general election, Plumb secured just over 118,500 votes while Reed garnered a little over 161,000 votes. In Chautauqua County, Plumb received 19,633 votes while Reed retrieved 24,659.

As for Reed’s camp, Nicholas Weinstein, political director, said the campaign’s confident their record of bipartisan leadership and accessibility will continue to resonate with voters.

“The campaign is off to its strongest start ever after two consecutive landslide victories on Election Day,” he said. “It’s no surprise that after breaking our records for fundraising and grassroots engagement that Democrats are behind the curve and struggling to find a candidate to challenge us.”

The 2016 election produced an array of citizen action across the country, state and county. While most outside groups are distrustful of the Democratic Party old guard, Green said he’s pleased to see many young people who are interested and involved.

“I welcome new people and new energy,” he said. “We have at least six outside groups that I know of that are meeting independently and are focused on national issues.”

As to what needs to happen to unseat Reed, Green said the “stars have to align.”

“You got a guy like (Donald) Trump, he got elected because the stars aligned,” he said. “Everything was perfect. It was a perfect candidate running against him and a perfect time and perfect situation. That’s what politics is.”

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